When the Attack on Titan live action movies were first announced, fans were eager to see the stunning animated effects realised on the big screen. The long wait for the movies to be released only heightened the anticipation, and by the time they came out, fan expectation was high. Unfortunately, their hopes seem to have been dashed when they finally got their tickets.
Movies Disappoint Fans
Early reviews from Japan were very unfavourable, persuading many American fans not to even bother seeing the films when they were released. The "all press is good press" rule really didn't work with this one, as furious fan reactions spread throughout the internet. Here's some of the bad review highlights...
"Please, eat them all" - IGN
"Miserably made." - Toru Sano
"I wish the titans would eat the kids so the movie would end." - Cho Eiga
"The Attack On Titan movie sucks" - Kotaku
"The Second Attack On Titan movie also sucks" - Kotaku
You gotta love a good bad review, and the Attack On Titan movies gave us more than we could ever hope for. Everything from the acting to the visual effects is torn down in reviews, with extra focus on the changes from the original manga and anime. Ultimately, that seems to be the movies' fatal flaw: the writers ignored the characterisations that made the anime so popular, making Mikasa less badass, Eren more whiney, Armin barely visible, and reducing all the other fan faves to background characters. Many other characters were eliminated completely, a decision which has been heavily criticised by fans.
Misunderstanding The Material
The writers seem to have missed the entire point of the original material: that this story is about a battle to save humanity for humanity's sake. Of course, the characters aren't always loveable (or even redeemable), but the point is that they're interesting. And the films kinda fail in that regard.
The setting too seems to have misunderstood the situation that humanity is in. Ignoring the pseudo medievalistic architecture of the original manga and anime, the filmmakers instead chose to set the film on Battleship Island.
This created a confusing mismatch of the characters' costumes (peasant like) and the imposing city blocks that were clearly built in the 20th century. The filmmakers also decided to update some of the machinery used by the military, demonstrating another crucial misunderstanding of the situation. Thanks to the threat of the Titans, humanity's technological development has been stunted, forcing them into a backwards society that cannot grow. If they have such superior weapons as rocket propelled grenades, this begs the question of why they bother to fight with swords?
On the other hand, Hanji with an RPG is pretty delightful to watch.
Of course, there have been more balanced reviewers who have praised the visual effects. Overall, the Attack On Titan movies are ok if you don't like, or don't know, the source material. And they're probably worth a watch for dedicated fans too, as long as your hopes aren't too high. Ultimately, the films probably suffered from over-hype that they just couldn't live up to. I guess the moral of the story is, always set your expectations low, and then you'll be pleasantly surprised!
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